If I were a retiree and was looking for a summertime home I would chose Naramata. It is a small, quaint and funky town full of character that consists of mainly artists, retirees, winery owners and their staff (of course I am being a bit reductive with Penticton being a short 10 minute drive away it isn’t out of the question that people make the commute). Since I am not yet able to retire I arrived in Naramata as a visitor hoping to get as much wine tasting and food in as I could during my day trip on Saturday.
My first stop in Naramata is always the Heritage Inn & Spa not because I stay there, or ever have before ($$$), but because of their Cobblestone Bar & Restaurant. Here I order one glass of wine from a winery that I know I will not be able to make it to because of our time crunch. The interior of the winebar/restaurant feels like a rustic old beer bar that you might find in Northern France or Germany. It is made up of wood and slate and the moody darkness it creates is ideal for a romantic getaway. The patio doors were open and the sun beaconed us to enjoy it while we could before the weather turns cold and snow is just a month or so away.
Our “goto” meal choice is the charcuterie platter which is one of the best in the entire Okanagan Valley. Charcuterie platters are one of my favourite lunches because there’s something for everyone but also it gives you room to be creative with your cheese, meet and spread pairings: smoked salmon and warmed goat cheese, wild boar prosciutto, local brie and herbed grape jelly and chorizo, raw cheddar and apricot mustard. The combinations are a mix of sweet, salty and sour, however much of each you desire.
After lunch my boyfriend and I (celebrating our 4 year anniversary) toured the grounds finding the chef’s garden, a porch with private verandas to relax upon for guests, and a large green area for badminton, weddings or sipping local wines in the sunshine. This September has been extremely warm reaching 30 Celsius almost every day this month but the air is the usual autumnal crisp in the mornings and evenings perfect for walks or runs through the small picturesque town of Naramata and their Elm tree lined streets.
The Inn itself was built in 1908 by John Moore Robinson and in doing so founded the town of Naramata. Having already made his money with a newspaper publishing company he decided to settle in the Okanagan valley after moving to the West in search of gold. The Heritage Inn was not only used as his home and a hotel but a private girls school as well. Robinson helped fuel the fruit industry that the Okanagan area is so famous for. Naramata was a hotspot for cultural performances in the valley. When there were no bridges to easily connect each side of the lake to the other there was a steamboat. People from Kelowna and all over the valley would take the boat to Naramata to take in an opera, a theatre production or a musical performance of some kind.
What else to do in Naramata besides wine tasting and gawking at the scenery? Here are a couple ideas.
Sun N’ Sup – Stan-up paddle boarding on the Okanagan Lake which spans the entire Okanagan valley.
Kettle Valley Railway Bike & Hike Trail – The Kettle Valley Railway is one of the most picturesque trails in the valley and is a great way to take in some gorgeous views and burn some of those calories from wine tasting and charcuterie platters.